Thousands of Arabs in Syria’s northern city of Manbij protested on Sunday, calling for the release of Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
Ocalan is serving a life sentence in the island prison of Imrali near Istanbul in Turkey after his capture in February 1999 in Kenya.
Yearly Kurds in Europe and the Middle East protest his arrest during the anniversary of his capture on 15 February.
Sunday’s protest in Manbij was organized by the Democratic Arab Youth Movement to condemn what they called “the international conspiracy” against Ocalan.
The demonstration began at the Martyr Faisal Abu Layla roundabout and passed on to the market and downtown, where participants carried pictures of Ocalan.
Mohsen Jassim, a member of the Democratic Arab Youth Movement, denounced the arrest of Ocalan, and said that Ocalan sacrificed his freedom for the freedom of Arabs, Turkmen, and Kurds to live together in peace.
The city of Manbij was captured by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on 12 August 2016 with support of the US-led coalition.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday threatened to attack Manbij, and also take Raqqa.
“After Al-Bab is over, the period following that will be Manbij and Raqqa,” Erdogan said about the Turkey-led Euphrates Shield campaign in northern Syria.
Erdogan told reporters in Istanbul that the final goal of the Turkish intervention is to clear a 5,000sq-km “safe zone”, vowing to press on towards ISIS’s Raqqa.
UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon announced on Sunday that the isolation of Raqqa will be completed by spring.
“I hope that isolation will be completed by the spring and then operations to liberate Raqqa itself can begin thereafter,” Fallon said during a press conference in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.
“Raqqa is a city that the enemy uses for external operations, so what we would expect is that within the next few weeks, the city will be nearly completely isolated and then there will be a decision point to move in,” said Colonel John Dorrian, a spokesperson for the US-led coalition.
“We’re working that with the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian Arab Coalition,” he said.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News
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